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IDG News Service - Yahoo is rolling out the newest version of its e-mail service and inviting all of its 284 million users to upgrade.
The company unveiled a test version of the new service in October last year. It was designed to help encourage people to spend more time on Yahoo properties.
The redesigned service integrates a number of social media offerings including Facebook and Twitter into Yahoo's e-mail service. For instance, people will be able to post messages to Facebook from within e-mail. They can view and share notifications and updates from Twitter, Facebook and Zynga from a new Updates tab.
Users can chat with Facebook, Windows Live and Yahoo Messenger contacts within Yahoo Mail.
The inbox includes 50 different themes and stationery from which customers can choose to view messages.
Yahoo Mail also supports certain apps that people can use to better organize their inbox. One, called All My Purchases, lets users track online orders. The Unsubscriber app is designed to make it easier for users to remove their names from newsletters. Also, the YouSendIt app lets users attach large files to messages. Other apps from PayPal and eBay will also be available.
New search features let users sort through search results by sender, attachment file, date or folder location.
The updated mail service is also designed to be faster and will include a new spam technology aimed at preventing phishing and reducing spam.
Users can upgrade to the new version online. The upgrade may not be available to all users immediately; Yahoo said it will make the upgrade available to all users "in the coming weeks." The company has posted a demonstration video online.
When Yahoo first rolled out the beta version last year, company CEO Carol Bartz said that it was designed to help revive user engagement, which had been dropping. Yahoo measures user engagement by the number of minutes the average user spends on its sites. That number had dropped from 2009 to 2010, and Yahoo hopes to stop the slide.